Some family revelations

Friday was a very busy day. I had a two-hour Zoom meeting with the Standards Australia committee for photography, which I chair. This was the follow-up for the ISO meeting I attended in Japan last month, for which I wrote the summary report recently. It was a well-attended meeting, and we had a new committee member to welcome, which was good. I went through all of the technical and administrative discussions from Japan, filling everyone in on developments. And then we had some Australian admin stuff to attend to, like updating adoption of international standards that have been revised, and organising preparations for hosting an ISO meeting here in Sydney in October 2024. I also said I was planning to travel to the next meeting in Finland in November this year, for which I can most likely get travel funding.

After that meeting I went out to pick up Scully from my wife’s work, and then return home in time for three ethics classes in a row.

And then after a quick dinner I went over to a friend’s place for board games night. We ended up with five people attending, and played games of Jump Drive, Gin Crafters, Fujiyama, and then four of them set up for Codenames while I went home a bit early, since I needed to be up a little early today.

Because this morning my wife started a new hobby! She left early to go to a local community garden and do some gardening work there. She came home with a bag of vegetables, mostly various leafy greens but also some potatoes, radishes, and Jerusalem artichokes. I had some of the salad greens on my lunch sandwiches.

After lunch we drove up to Gosford to visit my mother. We haven’t seen her for several months, because of various cancellations due to COVID and other illnesses. We took the souvenirs from Japan for her: a box of matcha chocolates, and a jar of spicy Japanese seasoning to use on her cooking.

While we were chatting, conversation turned to travel, about our recent trip to Japan, and then when we went to Germany last year and saw my aunt (my mother’s sister). And my mother said she was so thankful that we arranged a Zoom call with her sister before she died last year. And then she said, “You know we weren’t really sisters, right?”

I said, “What??”

My mother proceeded to explain that her and her older sister had different fathers, and both were different to the father of their three younger siblings (my other two aunts and uncle). Basically, the man who I’d thought was my grandfather for my whole life until today, wasn’t my mother’s biological father. (Nor the father of my mother’s older sister.) She said that her older sister’s father was an American soldier, based in Germany at the end of World War II. And her own father… she had no idea who he was. My “grandfather” had formally adopted my grandmother’s two children when they got married, and then gone on to have three more children together.

I had no idea about any of this before today. So, the gist of it from my point of view is that… I don’t have any idea who my grandfather is. The man who I thought was my grandfather wasn’t. And both he and my grandmother are now dead, so there’s nothing to be learnt there. My mother says that her mother told her this at some point (roughly when she was middle-aged), and her mother had urged her to go find her real father in Germany, but my mother had stated that the man who raised her was her father as far as she was concerned, and she had no desire to seek out anyone else. So I think the window has closed to learning any more.

It’s not a life-shattering revelation, but it does feel a bit odd to learn this so late in my own life. I don’t think it makes any practical difference, but now there’ll always be a bit of wondering about the truth.

On the drive home we stopped off at a suburb on the northern end of Sydney for dinner. We found a place called Burger Hounds and had burgers. I tried the “Honey Badger”, a fried chicken burger with spiced honey and coleslaw. It was a bit sweet, spicy, and really delicious. This was a really good burger place and was doing a cracking business in people eating in and also take-away orders.

A couple of hours later and I’m still full from that burger…

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One thought on “Some family revelations”

  1. You can always do a DNA test and see if there are any relatives in the database. Of course, if you are from an inbred group, you may find quite a lot of distant relatives…

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